Decision making in delinquency cases: The role of race and juveniles' admission/denial of the crime

Richard Barry Ruback, Paula J. Vardaman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Investigated how accused delinquents' admission/denial of their crimes affected adjudication and disposition decisions. An archival analysis of 2,043 adjudication decisions in 16 Georgia counties found that juveniles who admitted committing their crimes were treated more severely than juveniles who denied committing their crimes. Whites were more likely than Blacks to admit committing the crime, and, after controlling for this and other legal factors, race did not have a significant effect. In the second study, 67 judges, 53 probation officers, and 126 court service workers made adjudication and disposition decisions about three juveniles in an experimental simulation in which race of juvenile, length of prior record, and the juvenile's reaction to the crime (admitting or denying it) were systematically manipulated. Consistent with the archival study, juveniles who admitted committing their offense were treated more severely than juveniles who denied committing their offense. Possible reasons are discussed for why admitting a crime leads to more punishment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-67
Number of pages21
JournalLaw and human behavior
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 28 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law

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